Office for iPad downloads reach 12 million

Office for iPad downloads reach 12 million

Summary: Surprise, surprise — Microsoft's Office apps are a hit on the iPad.


Microsoft says it has clocked up 12 million downloads of Office for iPad apps.

Microsoft announced the figure nine days after launching the much-anticipated suite of apps for the Apple tablet. The 12 million downloads are across Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote apps — the latter has already available on the App Store for more than a year now.

Four days after launching the three new apps for the iPad, Microsoft announced they had shot to the top of Apple's free iPad apps chart — which is where they remain in the US, with Word at the top, followed by Excel, and PowerPoint.

While the apps are free to install, to get all the apps' features and functionality — such as document editing — users need to have an Office 365 subscription at $99 and up, which permits the suite to be used across up to five devices.

Of course, the US isn't the only key market for Microsoft and the apps' rankings are the same in the UK, Germany, Spain, and Sweden. But not in France, where Word is in top spot while Excel and PowerPoint trail in fourth and fifth behind an entertainment app and a gaming app.

Meanwhile in the Netherlands, all three apps have been topped by photo app Phoster. In Australia, too, PowerPoint and Excel were pipped for second spot by a game while Word is in pole position. And in China, Word is in fifth place and Excel is in sixth. 

There was pent-up demand from iPad users for the Office apps, which have previously only been available on Windows and Windows Phone devices.

Not surprisingly, just as Google has locked QuickOffice into Google Drive for cloud storage, the only integrated cloud service for Office, Word and PowerPoint on the iPad is Microsoft's OneDrive. Even less surprising is that some users are furious about the lack of Dropbox integration.

Another missing feature that Microsoft didn't migrate from Office on the desktop is that the iPad apps don't have print functionality. Microsoft told PCWorld it will regularly update the apps but stopped short of confirming whether, or when, it would add the feature.

Microsoft's multi-platform approach to deepening the reach of Office into mobile may get another boost in future with its new $0 licensing of Windows Phone and Windows for devices with screens under nine inches. While the OS will be free for OEMs, those OEMs will be expected to promote Office 365 to device owners.

To be clear, Microsoft has not said Office 365 will be free on those Windows devices, only that OEMs will be able to "provide their customers a one-year subscription to Office 365".

Read more on Office for iPad

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, Apps, Enterprise Software, iPad

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Best tablet ever

    iPad is the best tablet on the market nowadays. You can do almost everything with it, I have it and the pictures are really good and the quality of the screen is sharp and nice, I can read during hours and my sight is not tired. This is just an advice, although i rekon there are also another good tablets on the market as the Google nexus 7, but i never owned one
    I would like to see if the office works as well over the ipad as everybody say. For me office has been always a software for computers, but of course it s really neccesary in ipad (Notes and Apple software i dont like it sorry)
  • Surprise

    Why is this a surprise?!!!
    People are eager to try office on iOS for a long time.
  • Me and my 10 friends downloaded - and removed.

    Me and my 10 friends downloaded the Office for Ipad.
    And afterwards experienced, that this is the largest file viewer app we have ever seen.
    We also bought Pages, Numbers and Keynotes 3x10USD (paid for owning them forever).
    We have considered a while paying 100USD for a year for the MS Office. (necessary cloud service)
    But we removed it without being able to try it.
    If we could have try it, it might consider us paying 3x100USD for the 3 years ownership.
    • A full-featured 30-day trial might be a good idea ...

      ... but most people who want Office of iPad are already familiar with Office so Microsoft may have thought that a trial is unnecessary. Of course, you can start out by subscribing to Office 365 on a monthly basis for $9.99.

      Microsoft will even give you the first month free. You can then cancel or (or upgrade to an annual subscription) at any time.
      M Wagner
  • How many iPads are in the wild?

    200+ million. And about 5% of those owners downloaded Office and 2/3rds of those will uninstall it in a few days.
    • Citation needed.

      Citation needed - for both figures. I was able to find possibly 170 million, but not 200+.

      And the uninstall figure is obviously pulled out of your rear end.

      Also, how many people download things like iWork or Documents To Go? What does the actual competition look like as far as office suites go in general? After all, the tablet probably isn't really used a lot for productivity.
      • Those numbers are not relevant

        ... as much as the number of subscriptions MS will win from office for iPad.
        I'm sure some will feel compelled to get a license to use it (in full), many with a subscription already, will be very happy to be able to do it. Office for iPad can even have a positive effect on iPad sales.

        So the numbers I will be looking to know is the bump on office 365 subscription after office for iPad release - come on Microsoft tell us the numbers that matter.
    • How to you know the umber is 200 million? How many of those are ...

      ... the first-generation iPad - which cannot run the required version of iOS?

      It would be interesting to know the removal rate but I'd bet it will be smaller than you think. Either way, everybody wins now that iPad owners familiar with MS Office have a choice.
      M Wagner
      • Apple has released sales figures for the iPad since the get go

        In October, 2013 there had been 170 million sold, and with their quarter sales volume, yes, they would have crossed the threshold by now.

        Only 15 million of those were iPad 1 (there was a lot of hype, but the first iPad wasn't a spectacular seller.)
  • Users always look for something to complain about ...

    ... If only this product had this feature or that. The tablet field is full of devices which cannot print on their own. Apple's AirPrint is an after-thought that only works with certain models of printers.

    So what do users do? They blame Microsoft because iOS does not manage standard (brand-agnostic) network printing.

    Funny, the Microsoft Surface 2/Pro 2 devices can print across the network - just like any other Windows OS can print. Linux can Print. Though using an ancient, and unsecure, UNIX model for printing, even Mac OS X can print to any network connected printer.

    Let's face it, Office for iPad is a great solution for those working in a BYOD environment - at work - and at home, where the iPad often co-exists with Windows system - or otherwise co-exists with a Macintosh computer running Office for Mac natively.

    12 million downloads in the first week isn't bad!
    M Wagner
    • AirPrint is not an afterthought

      it is built deep into the iOS plumbing and has been since 2010 (the year the iPad was released.) It is an application programming interface available to all iOS applications, and Microsoft has committed to providing print in upcoming updates.

      OS X does not use a single "ancient and insecure" UNIX model for printing. It can print using a number of techniques, including Windows style smb, Apple Filing protocol, AirPrint, and yes - it has support for LPD printing (probably what you're referring to) which, by the way, Windows also can do.
      • This Seems Odd - Reading Office Files

        I have been able to read Word and Excel files, or at least attached to emails, for quite some time, on iOS devices. On my iPhone before it was even called iOS, when it was just iPhone OS. The ability to read Word and Excel was there from the start (I have the original iPhone which I got on the day after initial release). Somewhere along the line, I have watched Power Point presentations on iOS. I don't remember whether I was able to do that originally and I can't revert my original iPhone back to the original iPhone OS to check. Power Point is viewable now on iPhone OS 3.1.3. I skipped to every other phone, so iPhone 3GS stuck on iOS 6.1.6, then 4S on iOS 7.1 and now 5S on iOS 7.1. All old iPhones used as iPod Touches, sort of. iPads all on 7.1.

        Ok, free Office, what does reading bring? It seems to have been there all along. I just put a Word and an Excel documents created in Windows 7, Office 10, saved into Dropbox, can open those on the iPad and iPhone. Had to check via wife's iPad (I've already installed Office on my iPad). I don't get why you would need to load another reader. For Office 365, which we do have and nearing renewal time, having read/write Office is terrific. I was able to print before, but mainly from Dropbox. I haven't tried printing from OneDrive, but I was able to print, after viewing, from SkyDrive without Office installed.
    • AirPrint...only works with certain models of printers?

      "AirPrint...only works with certain models of printers"

      I don't think so. I believe it is more dependent upon the router. I bought a cheap ($36 - yeah I know, the ink costs more even 3rd party) HP printer from Walmart. I've hooked it up to my router, via USB 2.0 and we have 4 iPhones and 5 iPads at home and we can print to it via AirPrint. Yes, our Macs and Windows 8.1 laptops can print to that printer. I have an additional printer, but it is connected to my Mac when I'm home (I take my MacBook Air to work) and when it is logged in, my Mac connected HP all-in-one (not AirPrint capable) becomes an additional AirPrint printer (and of course works with OS X and Windows). Ok, granted that both require other devices, but one of them is a router (I'm guessing most people reading here use a WiFi router at home), it doesn't require an AirPrint capable printer. Both printers are not wireless.

      Linux (one old PC, Windows XP wiped and Mint Linux installed) and Android (we have two Android tablets at home) can print to both printers.

      @FenceSitter: @MWagner said "'ancient and insecure' UNIX model for printing" was referring to Linux, not Mac OS X.
  • Moving on...

    I have been reading some of the responses - man what cr@#. Is the product good, yes. Will it sell, who cares. Will I use it - of course. I will continue using my computer, (for now), to edit and create material, and my iPad to view the material. Sure this is not how many readers think, but it works for me.

    How many serious software corporates are building awesome software. Not too many. I know that I will come in for some beating but I am glad that MS has taken it's head out of its ... and started to develop on other platforms. Like it or hate it - they build good software and maybe the bar will be lifted..

    Who knows :)
  • Microsoft has just added the iPads to one of its cash cows...

    Let's look at it with numbers, which are very realistic...

    There have been 12 million downloads in the first 9 days. Let's say that, conservatively, there will be some 20 million downloads in the next few months. Let's also say that, some 20% of those "download" consumers will eventually turn their Office 365 to full functionality, at a price of ~ $99; let's round that to $100. So, we end up with 20% of the 20 million being 400,000. 400,000 times $100, equals $400 million dollars for one year.

    But, we have to remember that, we're talking about the Apple fanatics and faithful, where the 20% I mentioned could actually turn out to be more like 50% of those iPad users going for the full functionality of O-365; so, potentially, we could have 10 million iPads users going for the full functionality O-365, which would earn Microsoft a cool $1 billion. (Yeah, Apple would get their 30%, but still...).

    MS should be thanking Google and Apple for fattening up MS's bank accounts.
    • Why 20%

      I don't know if that number is wrong or right, but I believe it's very optimistic.
      Doing a fast search in app stores, free versions of common applications have 20 to 100 times more downloads - sometimes the ratio is even bigger. One common office set of apps was downloaded 50 millions for the free version, 500 thousands for the version that costs around $10.
      I agree that during the current year MS app can easily reach 50 millions, but 20% of that seems a lot for something very expensive.
      How did you come with that value?
      • How did I come up with 20%? Easy! We're talking about the Apple

        fanatics, who are supposedly the rich kids when it comes to mobile technology and who run around flaunting their nice toys. So, flashing their nice toys with what could be the biggest set of apps to have met their toys, would be icing on the cake for their egos. I might even be low-balling with 20%, and it could reach close to 50%.
        • That might happen

          Someone else rated the potential at a 30% ratio for paid version - in absolute, like 30% of iPad owners would buy office for iPad - even more optimistic!!

          Apple users are used to pay a lot of money for things, but not like that, at least in average.
          In Germany - the country with the smaller ratio between free and paid apps - free apps used to represent (couldn't find the most recent data) 10 times more downloads, world average is obviously a lot smaller - in China the same ratio was bigger than 100.
          I have few doubts that office for iPad is a very attractive set of apps - among the best, but they are also very expensive. A ratio of 5 between free and paid seems possible but very unlikely in my opinion.
          iWorks is a very capable set of applications, costing 1/5 to 1/10th of the Microsoft equivalent.

          Microsoft is going to make a lot of money with office and iPads but is not yet clear to me that it's going to be huge. Also Microsoft tablets (mainly the "RT"), are now a bit less interesting.
    • Cash cow? Remains to be seen...

      Those who have managed to get along without Office so far, would they suddenly buy a subscription, just because Office is available on iPad? If you really need Office, you probably already use it on PC, Mac and/or tablet. The iPad is a welcome addition to the devices you can use it on (1 of the 5 devices allowed in one subscription). It's difficult to estimate how many additional subscriptions the iPad version will generate.
      The other way around, those who didn't buy an iPad yet or didn't upgrade to iPad 3 because it didn't run Office, could now be convinced to buy one - maybe even ditching their Surface...
      Anton Theunissen
  • Umm comments from SJVN

    Oh SJVN ummm comments please oh hellooo ooo, ooo, oo yeah nothing